You really can’t ask for much better as the Pirates completed their September program with four wins out of four, second place in the league table just one point behind early pace-setters Bristol, the next side to venture west of the Tamar in two weeks time.
Before that of course there is the little matter of the Pirates’ trip to Plymouth Albion next Saturday, always a mouth-watering prospect. Quite what the on-watching Graham Dawe will have made of the Pirates’ performance yesterday will no doubt occupy his mind for the rest of the week as he seeks to plot their downfall. Albion will be buoyed by their promising performance in defeat against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
Coventry’s director of rugby Phil Maynard had made a few interesting observations on the Pirates in the local Coventry press in the week leading up to the fixture, such actions merely serve to motivate the opposition even more, the reading of the table should prove sobering!
Proving the point that the Pirates were well motivated was skipper Blair Cowan’s big hit on Coventry’s blindside flanker Henno Venter after barely 3 minutes on the clock, the poor chap didn’t know what day of the week it was as he eventually got shakily to his feet having to be helped from the field.
Despite the early setback it was Coventry who had the first scoring opportunity as full-back Ben Russell missed a kickable penalty on 4 minutes.
Following a penalty kick to the park gate corner by fly-half Jonny Bentley, the Pirates set-up a good drive towards Coventry’s line. As the ball went wide Pirates’ No.8 Laurie McGlone drove powerful over the gain-line, with Coventry infringing, Bentley had the chance to open the scoring with a well-struck penalty after 8 minutes.
Coventry, however were out to prove that they are much-improved side from last season, they certainly contested well in the set-piece and loose, frustrating the Pirates as the half wore on. They were rewarded with a drop-goal from their Tongan fly-half Fangatapu Apikotoa on 16 minutes.
Buoyed by this success the visitors continued to press, scrum-half Micheal Walls went close to scoring a try as Coventry pounded the Pirates line, whilst full-back Wes Davies had to be alert as Coventry’s dangerous French winger Romain Plantey looked to get in down at the scoreboard corner.
Coventry did get some reward before half-time as Russell kicked a penalty. Stung the Pirates roared back at their opponents. Hooker Rob Elloway kicking on towards the line only for Russell to get back just in time. Further Pirates pressure saw Coventry’s skipper Jamie Miller sin-binned for his side’s persistent infringing. Despite the man advantage the Pirates couldn’t add to their score before half-time, though Bentley thought he’d scored, only for referee Mr Doyle to signal a double movement.
Half-time entertainment was provided by an excellent U.10’s match between Camborne and Wadebridge Camels as well as a display from the Cornish Comets gymnastic display team. As ever wonderful entertainment from our Cornish youngsters.
Upon resumption of play the Pirates set the ground buzzing with a wonderful score, the ever-alert Bentley chipped cleverly ahead for centre Nick Jackson who took the ball before releasing Davies who ran in to the clubhouse corner after barely 30 seconds of the second-half. Bentley couldn’t add the extras from out-wide, but he was on cue 5 minutes later as he converted his own dazzling score as he showed wonderful balance and stepping to waltz his way through the Coventry defence to score under the posts putting the Pirates15 – 6 up.
Play ebbed from one end to the other, Bentley again cross-kicked for winger Rhodri McAtee but the Welsh winger was held. Coventry attacked up at Hubert’s Hill corner through Plantey who was well tackled by lock Luke Collins, who managed also to strip the ball from the winger, great play from the giant Cornishman.
Both sides looked to their benches for that extra impetus. It was the visitors who made the breakthrough with skipper Miller claiming a try following a big drive form his forwards. Russell failed with the conversion, but he made amends shortly after with his second penalty with five minutes left on the clock to set-up a grandstand finish.
Some fine play from the Pirates saw replacement centre Mark Ireland put McAtee in for the Pirates’ third try in the clubhouse corner, Bentley couldn’t convert but he’d already done enough to earn the man-of-the-match accolade.
Coventry threw everything into the final moments to try and snatch the win, however the Pirates had the satisfaction turning the ball over to snuff out the final threat.
Following the game Pirates backs coach Harvey Biljon was delighted with a fourth win on the trot “I said before the game we’d take the win, even if it was ugly. Quite clearly today there was one team out there trying to play rugby and one team trying to kill the game.
Obviously their ploy before the game was to slow everything down so that we couldn’t play the tempo game we wanted to play. At the same time, a game like that today was what we needed, there are smart teams out there in the Championship who are streetwise and we’ve got to look at ourselves to make sure we find a way to combat those slowing down tactics.
“We shall now sit down and review our first four games and re-set our goals for the next portion of the season, I am happy with the win today, but I would have liked to entertain a little more all the supporters we had here today, they were quite rightly frustrated with the numerous stoppages during play from our visitors.
Turning his attention to next Saturday’s derby match at the Brickfields “Good to see Dawsey at the game today, not too sure what he would have taken from today’s performance. The boys will know it’s going to be a massive game next week and I am sure we will have a massive following of supporters going up there. We as coaches have got to make sure this week the new players that have come into the squad understand the history and what a game like this is all about.”
Cornish Pirates 20 pts
Tries – Davies, Bentley, McAtee; Conversion – Bentley; Penalty – Bentley
Coventry 14 pts
Try – Miller; Penalties – Russell (2); Drop-goal – Apikotoa
Yellow Card – Miller (39)
Cornish Pirates: W Davies, J Moore, N Jackson, S Winn (M Ireland 57), R McAtee, J Bentley, B Jones; C Rimmer (P Andrew 57), R Elloway (D Ward 57), R Brits ( A Paver 68), L Collins (S Betty 76), R Labuschagne (M Evans h/t), B Cowan (capt), S Betty (T Holmes 52), L McGlone
Replacement (not used): R Jones
Coventry: B Russell, J Lewis (W Hurrell 54), P Mackenzie, C Lewis, R Plantey, F Apikotoa (O Winter 51), M Walls; D Maddock (K Davis 35-40), J Merrigan, J Hall ( R Dugard 62), S Herrington, L McGowan, H Venter (R McMillan 3, S Roberts 40), B Pons (B Dechartes 80), J Miller (capt).
Referee: Mr J P Doyle (RFU)